Umkhonto we Sizwe vets march through Durban. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/ANA Pics
Umkhonto we Sizwe vets march through Durban. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/ANA Pics

Disgruntled MK vets to meet with ANC leaders

By Samkelo Mtshali, Siboniso Mngadi, Mervyn Naidoo, Nathan Craig, Nkululeko Nene Time of article published Sep 27, 2020

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Durban - The leadership of the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal is set to hold further talks on Tuesday with disgruntled members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in the province following an initial meeting with a committee of the members.

This came after members of the association took to the streets on Friday and threatened to shut down the province by blockading the N3 and other roads in Durban, a plan police said was thwarted. The group of 3 000 dwindled to 300 by the time they reached the ANC’S provincial headquarters.

In a memorandum, handed to the chairperson, Sihle Zikalala, the disgruntled faction listed 14 demands to be attended to “with immediate effect”. Among them was the banning of foreign nationals from employment across professions, a sum of R250-million be set aside for EX-MKMVA and other liberation war veterans for housing, resignation or stepping down of those ANC leaders implicated in corruption and or criminal matters and unbanning of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said that their meeting with the association was a success and they had found common ground.

“The MKMVA soldiers were complaining about several issues that they had spoken to the ANC about, but the ANC had not taken note of them in the manner that they deserved, so we spoke with their committee and agreed to meet on Tuesday to hold further discussions about these problems,” said Ntombela.

Among some of their problems that they brought forward was the well-being of MKMVA “soldiers” and the challenges that they faced, which they felt was not being prioritised. These include “job and business opportunities for MKMVA soldiers,” he said.

However, the provincial executive committee of the MKMVA distanced itself from the striking MKMVA members saying that it had not invited Umkhonto we Sizwe members to take part in the “purported shutdown of Kwazulu-natal province for the purpose of forcing the government and ANC in particular to attend to the demands of all combatants from the liberation armies”, said KZN MKMVA PEC provincial secretary Jazzman Mthembu. will be no action. They are very stubborn to seek experts’ opinions on this matter because they have ulterior motives.

“The airport was never made to generate revenue for the city, but it was an attraction. The city’s excuse that it is no longer generating revenue is senseless. I am prepared to take legal action if they insist on their plans without our consent. They must first identify a suitable place for the airport before they can talk about any plans,” he said.

Other operators who asked not to be named, said they would wait for public participation to voice their concerns.

Phillip Sithole, deputy city manager for the city’s economic development and planning unit, said the matter was still to be discussed at a full council meeting and preferred not to comment.

However, Lwazi Mzobe, spokesperson for the disgruntled faction said they were not acting parallel to the organisation but felt that their concerns were neglected by the leadership. He said over the years they have addressed their plight within the party to no avail.

“We are subjected to recruitment like other people, veterans must be deployed based on their skills. It’s very sad when one of us pass away and people must donate for the funeral. Our demonstration was a success but we haven’t achieved what we wanted. We are hoping the ANC will tell us what they will do about our demand at Tuesday’s meeting, otherwise, we will return to the streets until someone listens and act on our demands,” said Mzobe.

In the build-up to the protests, it was alleged that demonstrators would hijack about five trucks and use them to blockade roads, but police prevented this. They had also planned to attack foreigners.

Both the Marianhill and Tongaat toll plazas were named as target areas to be disrupted but “strategic deployments” were made by police to maintain the peace.

Metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad said there was strong police presence with public order policing and rapid response teams from both metro and SAPS. Jay Naicker, provincial police spokesperson, said police would not hesitate to deal with anyone found to be causing disorder, but no arrests were made.

Political analyst Mzoxolo Mpolase, said the MKMVA faction was rebranding a battle they had fought for over 20 years.

“These veterans assisted in the Struggle and believe they are entitled to the spoils of war like other ANC constituencies such as the youth league and the women’s league but by and large there is some truth that the ANC does not respect the MKMVA who could be seen as disposable. The spoils they are fighting for are also state resources which cannot just be dished out to whoever makes enough noise,” he said.

Mpolase said an ANC membership was a transactional process by which members could climb to the echelons of public office based on party loyalty.

“If you see others benefit from their membership but you are still living in squalor you too would be angry at the end of the day,” said Mpolase.

Economist Mike Schussler, said it was not feasible to give in to the demonstrators’ demands.

“They are not understanding the implications. The problems are not just about the money, there are systems and procedures in place to ensure smooth economic operations and government cannot be strong-armed,” he said.

Schussler said the country was facing economic problems and there are hordes of people battling financial hardships and unemployment.

“Money is funnelled into projects that provide housing and education relief to the impoverished so why do they feel entitled to take that away from someone?” Schussler said.

Zikalala’s spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said the premier would address some of the issues raised at some point, but not immediately “...probably in his State of the Province address”.

Daniel Dunia, a spokesperson for Africa Solidarity Network, an organisation representing foreigners, said it was tiring that foreigners carried the blame when the state failed to care for citizens.

“Hatred against foreigners is always prevalent before elections, this is a political campaign tool which often puts a life of a foreigner at risk when violence is incited. We are living in fear after we have been accused of stealing jobs from locals. Local government elections are next year, we are going to be victims again. People can do as they please because no one gets arrested for the xenophobic attacks,” he said.

Sunday Tribune

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